Thursday, December 22, 2016

No honeymoon

Traditionally a new administration gets a honeymoon period, a period of time in which it's considered bad manners to blast it for alleged bad behavior, malfeasance, bad faith, etc. We extend the new administration the benefit of the doubt on a lot of things.

Teh Donald thumbed his nose at most traditions in the course of his campaign and has continued to flout the norms of how a president-elect behaves in the run-up to his presidency. Never has Donnie showed he's worthy of the benefit of the doubt. It's therefore only appropriate that we, the people, follow suit by foregoing the traditional honeymoon period.

I had originally entitled this post "Resist". That's not right, though: we can't blindly obstruct him, as Senate Republicans blindly and stupidly obstructed Obama. Donnie isn't evil incarnate: he's just a raging, possibly clinically diagnosable narcissist. It's possible he'll do things that are actually defensible or even good for the country, just because they accord with his egotism. Stranger things have happened.

But it's a safe bet that most of the time his actions will be antithetical to the spirit of liberal democracy and corrosive to the freedoms and liberties we hold dear. When he tramples on those freedoms, then we have to resist — even if it's on Day One of his administration.

If ever there was a good fight, this is it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

My Obsession Now: The Old 97's, "How Lovely All It Was"

Most people listen to the Old 97's because of lead singer and songwriter Rhett Miller. I like Miller well enough as a singer and he has certainly penned his share of terrific songs for the band. However, the guy whose contributions I anticipate most eagerly is bassist Murry Hammond. From "W. TX Teardrops", my introduction to his vocal stylings, right on through today, I always look for his gem of a song on each album. I'm grateful as hell that he, at least, keeps the alt-country spirit alive in the band.

In the case of The Grand Theatre, Vol. 2, that gem is "How Lovely All It Was". I first heard this album during a long drive a couple of years ago. When this track came on, I almost forgot I was driving. I found myself hitting the "back" button so often, I finally pulled over and set the track to repeat. It accompanied me for the last three or four hours of the trip.

As with many of his numbers, I'm not quite sure what exactly he's singing about: the lyrics are a little oblique, just as the song's title is. The atmosphere, though, is reflective and a bit mournful, which suits my recent mood to a T.

This is my best guess as to the lyrics that resonate most:

If I don't see you again this way tomorrow
And my body doesn't break under the sorrow I swallow
I'll see you one old tomorrow
By and by

...

We're movin' on: you know that we've got to, man
How lovely all it was, how lovely all it was
The sun moves up and on, and so must we, my friend
How lovely all it was, how lovely all it was

(The ending, with just Murry singing to an acoustic accompaniment, sounds like it could have been a studio outtake from his solo album.)

I'm currently wallowing in the past and while it's kind of refreshing to dig up these particular memories, at some point I'll have to move up and on. How fortunate that Murry will be there to remind me.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The new journalistic principle

The United States' big media organizations did not cover themselves in glory with regard to their presidential election coverage. As always, they framed the election as a game, with innumerable polls serving as the scoreboard. Worse, though, was how consistently they let Donnie lead them around by the nose. Every tweet triggered a flood of breathless "reporting".

If it wasn't obvious before, it damned well should be now: they got played. Or rather, they let Donnie play us because his exploits made them a lot of money.

Come on! Every time Donnie needed to distract us from news that genuinely damaged his campaign, he shot off a handful of tweets that whipsawed the national conversation in a different direction. And every time, it worked. Our vaunted media elites ran after the fresh clickbait like junkies chasing their next fix.

Worse, we followed them. We all wound up in Donnieland, the crappiest place on Earth, where our fever dreams sound true. (They aren't, to be clear, but that's what Donnie wants us to think.)

If the big media outlets want to stay relevant in what promises to be the most dishonest, utterly shameless administration in history, they're going to have to make one radical adjustment to their rules of operation. It's the same radical adjustmment all of us will have to make on Inauguration Day.

That adjustment?

Ignore everything Donnie says. Pay attention solely to his deeds.

They — we — can't trust anything the Narcissist-in-Chief says. We can't even assume he's lying: he has no fixed relationship to the truth. If you listen to him you will get dizzy and throw up — or go nuts.

We must stop acting like every word emitted from one of his orifices for public consumption is worth mentioning. Got that, journalists? No matter how tempted you are to file several hundred words on last night's tweetstorm, don't do it.

As for us, the audience? Our job is, do no (more) harm.

Stop rewarding Donnie by retweeting him, even ironically. Stop rewarding anybody who enables him. That includes anyone or anything claiming to be a news outlet.

Again: ignore what Donnie says. Watch what he does.

And keep your hold on reality, because that's what Donnie wants: for us no longer to know what's true.